Naga organizations of Manipur lifted their 69-day economic blockade Friday afternoon. The decision came four days after their counterparts in adjoining Nagaland ended their siege on an arterial highway linking Manipur capital Imphal to the rest of the country.
“We have decided that the present economic blockade being enforced by ANSAM stands suspended temporarily from 4 pm of June 18,” said a communiqué emailed by a joint committee of Naga organizations of Manipur and Nagaland.
Ansam expands to All Naga Students’ Association of Manipur.
The decision, taken in Nagaland capital Kohima, coincided with the arrival of five companies of Central paramilitary forces in Manipur’s Senapati district. A 60 km stretch of National Highway 39 in this district was cut off following the imposition of the economic blockade since April 11.
The lifting of the blockade, however, failed to convince Manipur truckers to take to NH39. They have refused to do so unless the losses they incurred during the blockade are compensated and the government cracked down on “illegal tax” collectors along the Naga-inhabited stretch of the highway through Manipur and Nagaland.
Nagaland-based organizations such as Naga Students’ Federation and Naga Hoho (traditional umbrella body of all Naga tribes) had egged the Ansam and United Naga Council, Manipur to call off the blockade in “deference to requests from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Indian civil societies”.
“But we will carry on with our agitation, in different forms and at different levels till the demands and aspirations of the Naga people are fulfilled,” said Ansam president Yhobu Adani David, who carries a reward on his head for triggering the economic crisis in Manipur.
The demands include declaring as “null and void” the autonomous council elections held recently in the Naga areas of Manipur, an alternative administrative arrangement for Nagas of Manipur and the expedition of ‘Indo-Naga peace process’.
In the Naga inhabited areas, Indo-Naga peace process is the politically correct term for the 13-year-old talks between the Centre and the Isak-Muivah faction of the militant National Socialist Council of Nagaland.
The outfit’s general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah had on May 6 tried visiting his ancestral village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district on May 6. The Manipur government refused him entry, compounding the crisis arising out of the economic blockade.